How to avoid being too salesy in client relationships
There is nothing more annoying than a pushy salesperson. Whether you’ve received a poorly-constructed prospecting email or a series of telemarketing calls, you’ve no doubt experienced examples of horrible sales attempts. The term “salesy” refers to selling your product or service to someone in an aggressive, superficial, and inconsiderate manner. This stigma is attached to anybody who engages in sales endeavors because so many inept salespeople demonstrate rude, annoying, or inconsiderate behavior.
To avoid this stigma of being “salesy,” accounting professionals can sometimes hesitate to offer a “close” to a new client, upsell an existing client, or nurture client relationships. I’ve personally wrestled with this since I despise any attempts to “push” me into buying when I haven’t made a final decision. However, I’ve come to realize that sales itself isn’t annoying, but rather how people sell that can turn away clients. In this article, I’ll discuss how you can improve your sales process and build relationships with new clients.
Empathize with potential clients by addressing their needs
Helping is the best kind of selling. When you learn to frame your services in a way that addresses the needs of your clients, you’ll attract more people since it will be easy for them to understand how you can help them. Helping clients begins with being interested in their needs instead of just your own. David Weinhaus, a sales trainer with Hubspot’s Agency Partner program, says that the best salespeople “look to understand a prospect first, and only then make a recommendation that will be helpful to them.”
To learn about the needs of your clients, you first have to know why they would need your services. Why should they buy from you rather than your competitor? If you’ve taken any sales classes, you understand that I’m talking about your unique selling point. A unique selling point is a reason why you’re the superior choice compared to other companies in your industry. As a firm leader, it’s worth taking the time to discover why and how your firm is superior to others. After all, you’re probably going to hear this question in your next meeting with a potential client.
Establish credibility through authoritative content
According to Hubspot’s 2018 research into sales trends, 60 percent of buyers prefer to meet with salespeople after they’ve done their initial research. With access to powerful search engines like Google, people feel more empowered than ever to research products and services before they even talk with someone over the phone or in a meeting. This means that the best way to reach people is with your content. Content can refer to a blog, video series, email newsletter, or any other media that educates clients about your services and guides them to buy from you. Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer report showed that 81 percent of consumers decide whether or not to purchase from a brand based on its credibility. Providing helpful and valuable content builds trust in your company and makes people more inclined to buy from you.
If you haven’t yet invested in a content marketing strategy, here are some steps to help you begin creating content that establishes your firm’s credibility with potential clients.
- Write down the most common questions you receive from clients.
- Turn those questions into a video or blog post on your website.
- Consider writing for profession-leading blogs, such as Firm of the Future.
- Ask for testimonials from clients and display them on your website.
Provide additional value through active listening
As you help your clients, it’s important to practice active listening. Despite the name, this type of listening has less to do with hearing than it does with noticing. Specifically, active listening refers to noticing the needs of your customers, based on trends in their industry or your knowledge of their operations. For example, assisting your clients by curating or providing cybersecurity services may help them maintain regulatory compliance or avoid a data breach that destroys trust in their company. Or, you can tailor your firm’s services to focus on your niche market.
Overcoming your fear of sales
Michael Palmer, who wrote about how to conquer your fear of selling, points out that inexperienced salespeople often drive prospective clients away in their desperation to “make a sale.” The key to successful sales is to begin with a relationship. In particular, establish a relationship with prospects before attempting to “sell” them, by taking the time to understand their goals and explaining how you can help them achieve those goals. The key is to focus on the relationship, not the sale.